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'My son sent me a WhatsApp message asking for money, but it was a scam - can I get my money back?'

How to get your money back from your bank if you've been deceived by a scammer

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?,

My son sent me a message on WhatsApp, asking if I could pay a £3,600 bill for him because he'd had problems setting up the online payment.

The HSBC account I was asked to transfer the money to wasn't in my son's name, but I thought it might be a friend who he owed money to, so I went ahead.

When I talked to my son shortly after, he said he'd sent no such message. Can I get my money back?

Name and address supplied

Put to rights

Michael Tomlinson and Mike Croxford, Which? Money Helpline advisers, sayu2026

Who among us wouldn't want to help a loved one in need? Instances of WhatsApp impersonation scams rose by 2,000% in 2021, says Lloyds Bank, with an average loss of £1,950.

Your experience also shows what a lottery the reimbursement process can be for scam victims. When you contacted us we told you about the voluntary code designed to protect scam victims.

Banks that have signed up to this code agree to identify and, if necessary, stop suspicious payments and to reimburse blameless victims.

After several weeks spent investigating, your bank (Santander) refused to refund you. But we thought that shouldn't be the end of the matter.

The code requires customers to take care - such as checking the payment details of the recipient - and also requires banks to take customers' vulnerability into account. Age is a factor, and you are in your eighties.

After you escalated it to Santander's complaints department, it quickly decided to refund you in full.

Other victims might not be so lucky; without a thorough understanding of the code, and a lot of patience, many will accept the bank's initial refusal to refund. It's for this reason we've been campaigning for reimbursement rules to be made mandatory for bank transfer scam victims.

In November, the government committed to doing making compensation mandatory. Until new rules are in place, we encourage bank transfer scam victims who've been turned down by their banks to escalate their complaint or turn to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Always be wary of messages requesting money or details, even if they appear to come from a trusted contact - insist on talking to them and don't be rushed. You can also block and report numbers.

Need to know

  • Scammers can impersonate your WhatsApp contacts, so always query unusual requests
  • Most banks are signed up to a voluntary code designed to compensate bank transfer victims
  • Complain if you've been treated unfairly; you can also escalate it to the ombudsman
  • Sign up for our free scam alert emails to get updates on the latest scams news and advice

Get in touch. If you've got a consumer rights problem you need put right, email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

Please be aware that we can't help with, or respond to, every email that we receive. The inbox is monitored periodically during office hours, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

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